Axing Red Arrows would be 'mistake'
THE first manager and Commanding Officer of the world-famous Red Arrows has said it would be a "disaster" if the aerobatic team ever stops performing.With their characteristic loops, rolls and skilful close flying, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, have become the staple of airshows in East Anglia.
THE first manager and Commanding Officer of the world-famous Red Arrows has said it would be a "disaster" if the aerobatic team ever stops performing.
With their characteristic loops, rolls and skilful close flying, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, have become the staple of airshows in East Anglia.
But they are now under the microscope as the Ministry of Defence launches a review of its assets to determine whether its budget is being used in the best way.
Richard Storer, a retired wing commander, who now runs Baylham House Rare Breed Farm, near Needham Market, said: "I sincerely hope they keep going. It will be a disaster if they do not.
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"They are presenting the face of the air force to the world and representing the country internationally.
"If British trade delegations are in Japan, the Far East or wherever, the Red Arrows are often sent along to promote the country and export markets.
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"They do an awful lot of good for promoting business and industry, and people flock to see them wherever they go."
Mr Storer, who was educated at Ipswich School and joined the RAF in 1956, said: "I was their first manager and CO [Commanding Officer] in 1965 and 1966. We were based in the Central Flying School but flew from RAF Fairford, in Gloucestershire.
"The Black Arrows No. 111 squadron, which were based in Wattisham, were just one of many squadrons that had the job of doing formation aerobatics on behalf of the RAF.
"But the Red Arrows were the first unit specifically formed to do this job as a primary task."
Mr Storer said the team was the brainchild of a Flight Lieutenant called Lee Jones, who had been based in Wattisham on the Black Arrows. Mr Jones became the Red Arrows leader, while Mr Storer was the CO.
Their popularity was just as big then, Mr Storer explained: "They were extremely good as they have always set an extremely high standard and they have maintained it to this day.
"They have many more restrictions on what they can do these days. They used to fly across the crowd and fly much lower than they do today.
"We were flying the Folland Gnat, a different plane, and in my opinion a better plane for the job, as it is a much nicer shape and can perform a smaller, and tighter display. The planes now are Hawks."
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said yesterday : "Every year we obviously have a look at all our resources and assets to ensure we are making the best use of the defence budget and therefore public money.
"Within that we obviously look at all squadrons and assets and personnel."
She added: "We have to justify that we are giving value for money for the taxpayer so we are not specifically targeting the Red Arrows.
"They look at the rest of the Armed Forces as well. The Red Arrows are in no more threat than any other aspect of the Armed Forces.
"They are celebrating their 40th display season this year, they are internationally renowned and they do a huge amount for the public image of the RAF and that's all in their favour."